Sunday, September 26

Two, three weeks

Two weeks ago we'd just about got home, three weeks ago we were there, in New Orleans (and this time next week I'll be heading north from Glasgow, en route to Invergarry)

So - lots of memories, lots of writing - mostly to go into the HoW book which I am extremely eager to see since if everyone is as greedy for space as I've been it should be a well-packed book of wonderful memories.

Lots of photographs too - I've finally found how to upload photos onto Isabelle's HoWNow site and looked with pleasure at those from Mike and Michael - hope everyone else puts theirs up there soon.

And talk already - we were talking a fortnight ago - of the next one - and where and when and who we most urgently want to see (another frequently-occurring topic of conversation)

It'll be something to look forward to for sure.

Tuesday, September 7

The big easy

the girls in the
blues club I suppose
must be legal,
they wear lampshades
for dresses,
belted under breasts.
they dance for
the band, for
the singer to notice.
the blonde tries
out sultry, she
must have
picked it up
off daytime telly.
anything but easy
her chin tucked 
into her chest and
her shoulders
twitching, arms
flopping like
sausage links.
the singer he
notices alright,
but it is a slow night


It rained today after everyone had left...
I felt like all the colours of New Orleans were getting to me earlier, this morning I "suffered" from a strange bodily reaction to something that I presumably ate or drank.  Shauna mentioned earlier in the weekend how she had an allergy to shellfish combined with strong spirits, and in true writerly fashion I decided to come out in sympathy, take her experience, embellish it a little and make it my own ;) 
At least, I can't think of a better reason other than a strange allergy why my shit started out grass green this morning, and gradually worked it's way to a turquoise/jade colour before (touch wood) returning to normal. 
I knew you would love it that I shared that with you all... I'm now searching for one more scatological experience I can write about (to add to the Chocolate/Struggle piece that was my first at SSF) and I can have a shit triptych...

Monday, September 6

I don't like Mondays..

Not because of having to go to school/work etc, but simply because the group has to split up and go their separate ways today.  Michael is already in the air above our heads.  I note another bright morning sunrise slightly resentfully due to a mild headache and sore throat, but pick up the computer even though it is only 6:30am.  Reading aloud posts and comments from friends on 6S to Mum, and exclaiming over a bunch of trite comments.  My excuse is that "writers" (and how sweet to call myself that from the glow of a writers convention) have to be observant and pick up on the absurd to fuel their creative engines; but the truth is, I just like bitching at times, most times ;) 
Yesterday afternoon was spent in the bar downstairs, because it is the best place to meet and chat, paper tumblerfuls of whisky, showing purchases (books, what else), Mike photographs Michael for a future art piece, we write bon mots into each others notebooks, and above all, chat.   The afternoon draws into evening as we head out again, food and wine and conversation swirling around the table; and then we swirl into the crowds on Bourbon Street.  The muted colours of daytime are a different place, noise and neon are the themes now.  Drink and flesh on display everywhere, booming club music replacing the gentler (but somehow more alive) Jazz.  We drank from our paper cups and observed the good natured revelry, and then retired to a room for refills and more talk into the night... 

Dulled tired eyes above
the laptop screen, the boozy
night gets its revenge.

Sunday, September 5

a selection box

The colours of New Orleans are both vibrant and muted; bright but not flashy, like there is a silty undertone from the Mississippi taking the sharp edge off everything...  I can't really describe them in a way to do them justice so here's a few snapshots...

It ain't 3 pages but...

the couple fuck out
of rhythmn in the room next
door, squeaking field mice.

Saturday, September 4


This morning, a guided tour of New Orleans, by "car", or at least what is a car here but a mini-bus in Europe.  Out through the Vieux Carre, picking up history, myth, mythical history on the way; and on over the canal to see the "levee" that burst 5 years ago, and the Lower 9th district.  For levee read wall, and I'm not talking about a big wall, nothing like the Berlin Wall, or the walls separating districts in Dublin or Belfast.  It's not that there is no sign of tragedy; the memorial cleverly representing the height of the water is poignant, especially as from the car the height of the pole is roof height on all the dwellings I can see. 
Before I came here I had absorbed media stories about how neglected this area was, how the residents had been simply left to sink or swim in the years since, how more was needed for those who had lost everything.  But it was difficult to see this, I guess without an understanding of how things were before to contrast with.  The houses that we saw were new, and well cared for, displaying invention in decoration, and yet an overall unity with the place and the community they were still in.  The empty lots, mostly grassed over, they did not scream of emptiness to me, but cycles of fallow, seeding and harvest.  The remaining ruins were not overwhelming, they also reminded me of Ireland, where planning permission is not needed to build the flashest of new houses as long as there was an old cottage on the land, and often the old cottage was kept there as a reminder.  The impression overall to me seemed to be one of "Shit happens, get over it"; exemplified by the "FIDO" comment of the driver - "Forget it, drive on."  Recovery seems to have a political element, with celebrity endorsed projects; projects for musicians - so as not to lose the "soul" of New Orleans, or at any rate the tourist dollars.
And then we drove to the cemeteries, where a plot and vault could be had for over $1million.  Way, way more than a new house in the district we had just come out of.  Given the population of the city of the living (~400,000 people I'm told), and the population of the city of the dead, well, the money seems to be flowing to the wrong places; as Mum said, you obviously can take it with you when you go.
It would be trite and an oversimplification to say I was speechless about this contrast; I don't really know what to think.  I guess so far that New Orleans had felt like a cohesive vibrant, relaxed community; and I was suddenly aware of the divisions under the surface.  There was a discusion last night on how to sum up the place in one word... I'm still searching for that word though.

Well met

After a whisky tinted afternoon, the HoW'ers finally all get together around a table in Lafitte's at the Doubletree...  En route to the hotel Shauna & Kevin have found a book, just lying in the street.  An 18th century French dictionary, well, part of one at least, from T to Z.

Looking suitably literary, coffee cups (with their "secret" Irish ingredient) and beer mugs clutter the table.  A further battered 3 volumes were also lying to be found, but too big, too heavy, too battered to be of use they were left behind.  I should be able to think of a story to tell about those books, and if I can't, one of us here should... but I suppose that the "true story" of how they came to be there would be weirder, more mythic than I could imagine.

In the Casino

Noise lights people food
brightly overwhelmed, Harrah's
shuts out the seasons.

Friday, September 3

update ;)

We got to the magic number - 6x 6er's in one room drinking Irish/Scotch/US whiskey/whisky/bourbon. 
Shauna is here somewhere and Michael & Teresa are en route...
Just going to line the stomach ;)


Not at Tiffany's but at Stanley's.   Piles of pancakes, strong coffee and grey marble topped tables.  The cafe on the corner of Jackson Square has long tall windows, views of red painted building and scrollwork balcony out of one side; the other looking at the square with it's tarot card readers, people on a wheeled "walking tour, bobbing forwards and backwards to speed or slow. 

Wood and glass and marble reflections; the height of the room making all the people stick to the lowest quartile of available space.  Portions and proportions, we are not dwarfed by the space, New Orleans seems to be built on a more human scale, the ubiquitous skyscrapers away from this part of town. 
I like it.

Day 1

The Mississippi, unsuspected from the night before
Seen grey and opalescent from our eleventh floor
Hard-edged bright orange circle of the sun
It's cloud-cut rising at the start of HoW day one.

we're here!

and pretty awake considering we were travelling and awake for 24hrs "yesterday"... The sun is just rising over the river and we are having a coffee & getting our heads together and planning (ok, deciding to mooch) for the day to get oriented and perusing maps...

Joe/Dwight predicted the time we would arrive at the hotel last night, and gave us a great welcome, rising from his perch on the bar stool in Lafitte's, where we later joined him for a quick beer and some appetisers before going our separate ways; us to bed to (hopefully) reduce our zombified demeanor, and Joe to try his luck at the casino across the road.  The free drinks for ladies offer at Harah's was tempting, but I wasn't sure I was capable of passing for a "lady" at that time ;)

Chatting over who was arriving when, we discovered that unfortunately Grey may not be able to join us;  which is a great shame as we were looking forward to meeting her; along with all the people who willl be arriving later today!

Sandra is busily writing in her notebooks, and I am brain dead wrt writing at the moment; since we flew Delta airlines via Memphis I have the "Ohrwurm" of the song "walking in Memphis" cycling around my head.  Not even the beer in the airport bar, charmingly accompanied by an Elvis impersonator crooning behind us, has managed to drive this song out of my head... I suspect it's there for the duration...

see you later!

Thursday, September 2